Turnout in Southern Sudan vote passes 60 percent

That was the threshold needed in order for the vote to be valid. The south is widely expected to choose to secede, a move that will split Africa's largest country in two and deprive the north of most of its oil fields.

An official with Southern Sudan's ruling Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement told journalists on Wednesday that nearly 2.3 million voters had cast ballots so far. Ann Itto says that people have stopped asking each other "how are you?" as a greeting and instead are asking "have you voted?"

Some 2 million people died in a two-decade war between north and south Sudan that ended in 2005.

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